Colorado Springs, Colorado (Nov. 29, 2020) – With 280 days since a USA Basketball national team last stepped onto the basketball court, the USA Men’s AmeriCup Qualifying Team (3-0) represented its country well with a dominant 99-59 victory over the Bahamas (1-2) on Sunday afternoon at the Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The USA shot 51.4% from the field (38-74 FGs) and 41.4% from 3-point (12-29 3pt FGs), dished out 22 assists, committed just seven turnovers and 11 players put points on the board.
The USA next will take on Mexico (1-1) at 7:30 p.m. EST on Nov. 30 (ESPN+). Due to COVID-19 precautions, no spectators or media are permitted at the game. The USA’s game against Mexico will wrap up its second window of FIBA AmeriCup Qualifying, with the third-and-final window set for February 2021.
“They tried to show a zone. They started zone, switched to man, they switched everything, and you can only do so many things in a game when you have a limited number of bodies, said USA head coach Mike Fratello of the Bahamas, which suited up just eight players. “And I was really happy with the way our guys recognized whatever it was, attacked it. And defensively, I thought we were good. If I’m right, I think at halftime we did not have any turnovers. And that’s obviously vital to you being able to score, because if you don’t turn the ball over, you give yourself more opportunities to score the basketball. But we had a number of people, five, six people, in double figures and one or two that were close to being in double figures. I like the unselfishness that we played with and passing the ball to the open man. But for me, the players know this, I start at the defensive end, and we’re doing well at the defensive end of the floor.”
Against the Bahamas, the USA was led by Amile Jefferson (Iowa Wolves/Philadelphia, Pa.) with 17 points and 11 rebounds; Tyler Hall (Westchester Knicks/Rock Island, Ill.), who was 4-of-6 from 3-point on his way to 12 points and four assists; John Jenkins (Hapoel Eilat, Israel/Hendersonville, Tenn.) with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point; Levi Randolph (Canton Charge/Madison, Ala.), who shot 4-of-4 from the free throw line and finished with 11 points and seven rebounds; and Travis Trice (Gemani Basket Brescia, Italy/Huber Heights, Ohio) with 10 points and six assists.
The USA outrebounded Bahamas 55-32 and recorded 50 points off of the bench.
“For a lot of guys, you know, this is their first game, real actual game playing since March,” Jefferson said. “So, to be back out there after a great week of practicing and getting to know each other and building chemistry was amazing. And the fact that we’re playing for USA, it’s something bigger than ourselves, makes it all that much better. So, I thought our guys played really hard and aggressive, and I thought the coaches put in a great game plan. We executed, so I was really happy with our performance today.”
Never trailing, the first quarter saw the USA methodically compile a 24-14 lead behind 40.0% shooting from the field (8-20 FGs), while its defense kept Bahamas cool at just 23.5% from the field (4-17 FGs). Kaiser Gates (Maine Red Claws/Alpharetta, Ga.) led the USA in the first period with seven points and four rebounds.
The USA came out with the hot hand in the second quarter – sinking four 3-pointers in the first 3:50 to go up 42-23 when Bahamas called a time out. And while Bahamas went on to sink a couple from deep, the USA pushed its lead to 24 points, 53-29, by halftime. Hall added nine points for the USA in the second period, while Jefferson accounted for eight.
At the midway point, the USA had upped its shooting percentage to 47.5% and held a 28-17 rebounding advantage.
The USA opened the second half with back-to-back 3s, but Bahamas remained about where it had started the first half, and was down 26 points, 67-41 at 4:17. From there, however, the USA put together its largest run of the game, 10-0, to pull away to 77-41. Bahamas scored the last points of the third quarter, and the USA led 77-43 with 10 minutes to play.
The USA reached its largest lead of the game in the fourth quarter, 43 points, at 4:49 when a Jenkins 3-pointer made it 89-46. Bahamas rallied to outscore the USA 13-10 over the final minutes to bring the game to the 99-59 final score.
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) November 30, 2020
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